Monthly Archives: June 2016

black bean confetti salad

I found this salad on Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen blog and have now made it several weekends in a row. It’s crisp, colourful, hearty, and rounds out a meal very nicely.

I followed her recipe exactly:

2 15-oz cans of black beans, 4 bell peppers chopped finely, 1 medium onion chopped, juice of 1 lime, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, salt, 1 fresh chile or hot sauce.


handmade socks

So I am taking a break from clay and getting back to knitting. A perfect summer project is handmade socks. They aren’t too hot to have sitting in your lap and it’s an easy thing to take in the car on road trips.

I know you can find hundreds of options for free patterns online but I stand by my Ann Norling pattern for socks. It will cost you a few dollars for the pattern but it’s worth it. Between my sister and myself, we have probably made 50 pairs of socks using the pattern. Our paternal grandmother was a knitter and always had a pair on the go. Her socks were the only ones our dad wore. I have made quite a few pairs for my sons and they seem to enjoy them too!

I decided to make a pair for my too-cool-for-school nephews from LA. They have been everywhere, have everything, need nothing. I really wasn’t too sure how a pair of brightly coloured,  handmade socks would go over. They are both reluctantly heading to sleep-away camp so I told them the socks were magic—they would drive away insects and homesickness and keep them warm at night. Let’s hope they work!



friday favourite – salad dressing

I realized the other day that I have never shared my salad dressing recipe on the blog. It is delicious and simple and it is all I ever use for everyday salads. Sorry for the delay – here it is in time for summer.

I have saved a couple small glass jars from capers or jam, and I pick up mini whisks every time I see them so I have no excuse for not making the dressing.

It has just four simple ingredients, so I have learned to keep the three that don’t need refrigeration all in the same cupboard with the jar and whisk.

Here it is: 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt


That’s it! It makes just enough for the salad bowl we use. If I am really on my game, I make two batches so I have no excuses not to make salad the next night.


salmon for dinner, again

I really don’t get tired of salmon for dinner and enjoy the search for more ways to prepare it. This week I tried a recipe from the NYTimes called Salmon and Tomatoes in Foil. It was incredibly simple and fun to make individual packets wrapped in foil.

I cooked two-1/2 lb pieces of salmon by putting olive oil on some foil, then the salmon, followed by some cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, salt & pepper and then another splash of olive oil. I sealed up the packets and placed them in a pan and followed the instructions for 10-12 minutes at 500 degrees. The only problem was they weren’t quite done and it’s a pain to open up the foil and realize it’s not fully cooked! Other than that, it was delicious and as the recipe states—the possibilities for food combinations are endless.

I made the kale-apple-carrot salad my sister wrote about last week, opened some white wine and together with the salmon had a delicious summer dinner!


creativity & clutter

I have spent most of my life interested in clay. It’s been an on again off again relationship. After my last long hiatus, I started up again about 5 years ago. I had read somewhere about the exercise of making 100 similar items to gain proficiency. This seemed like a good time to tackle the 100 project. Since I love coffee mugs, I decided I would make 100 of them. I would keep notes about handles and glazes and finally make my perfect mug…HA!

I made red ones and blue ones, I made tall and short, I made perfect swooping handles and awkward little ones. And I made 100. As the project was wrapping up my husband gently asked what I was planning to do with all the mugs. Hmmm. I hadn’t thought about the problem of creative clutter. Then it came to me – I would have a sale and donate ALL the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity. It would be too awkward to have a sale and keep the proceeds since my friends would most likely be making a mercy purchase. But if I charged $20 and gave it all away…maybe people would feel okay about taking home a mug.

The sale was a success, I sold all the mugs and decided to apply the 100 project to bowls.

Same idea, different vessel, different charity. This time I picked the local food bank and when the project was over they took a picture of me handing them an oversized check for $2000!

Fast forward to last September and I once again wanted to tackle mugs in search of the elusive combination of design, colour and function. I didn’t keep count this time but ended up with the same problem of creative clutter. The newlyweds selected 8 for their new life together. My friend LKG selected 10 for her lake retreat. And still I had plenty.

Then it hit me. We were hosting the post-wedding brunch and would be serving coffee to 75+ guests…what if I casually offered them to people after they drank their coffee?!?

Brunch mugs

Brunch mugs

Bingo. They found new homes. Win Win. I think it’s time to switch to knitting for awhile!






friday favourite – Polestar Hearth bakery

I love supporting local, independent businesses wherever I possibly can. I don’t have anything against large corporations – we need all kinds of enterprises for a healthy economy.

But there’s something about local that gives me the kind of connection I love as part of a community. So when I saw a local Indiegogo campaign for Polestar Hearth bakery, I jumped right in. I love their bread and they do a great job of marketing.


The t-shirt and cloth bread bag I’m going to get with their woodcut logo is definitely going to be a Friday favourite.


kale two ways

I’m trying to get back into summer salads. I love to eat them. Just need a little nudge every year about this time to find a recipe, do the shopping and mixing…for a bowl of crunchy, tasty goodness.

With fresh, local baby kale in hand, I found this Kale, Carrot and Apple Salad recipe. I always improvise and for this recipe, I grated the carrot and added feta at the end. Always a great idea for any salad.

And this Raw Kale Slaw is delicious too.

Trim centre rib from one bunch of kale, stack leaves and cut into this strips. Place in large bowl and toss with 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 clove garlic (chopped), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 pine nuts (toasted) and 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (chopped).

Let salad stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow flavours time to blend and kale to soften. Finish with freshly grated parmesan cheese (or feta).




farming the market

We grew up with a huge vegetable garden. As a kid, it was great to be able to walk out and steal a carrot or pick fresh beans or peas off the vine. I could have done without the weeding required when your farm garden is the size of an average urban house lot.

Now that I live in a city, I could join the growing popularity of urban gardeners and backyard chickens. But I’d much rather make the trek to the local farmers’ market and shop from the source, supporting those that make their livelihood on the land.

I love seasonal markets the most. It connects you to what’s in season and available – a great contrast from a big grocery store.


This past weekend was about greens – baby kale, green onion, parsley and cucumbers. Plus mushrooms, fresh honey and locally-baked bread. Local strawberries and peas are ready…I just didn’t get up earlier enough to get them. Maybe next week.

This is a great time of year to look for a local market in your area.



friday favourite – peonies

I wait all winter for my peonies to show off for me. They never disappoint me!

IMG_4244 (the source of all knowledge!?!) says that peonies are known as the flower of riches and honor. With their lush, full, rounded bloom, peonies embody romance and prosperity and are regarded as an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage.  Sounds good to me!

They make me think of some friend of your mother’s who always wore red lipstick and had an attitude, in a good way. They demand your attention. They are my friday favourite. Try channeling your inner peony today and wear some red lipstick!


no bake granola bars

Thanks Liz for introducing me to these 5 ingredient no bake granola bars!

They taste great, are very simple to make and you can pronounce all the ingredients!
  • 1 cup packed pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, loosely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc.
  1. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency.
  2. Place oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl – set aside.
  3. Warm honey and peanut butter in microwave. Stir and pour over oat mixture.
  4. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8×8-inch baking dish lined with parchment paper so they lift out easily.
  5. Press down firmly until uniformly flattened.
  6. Cover and let firm up in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars. Store in an airtight container or in the freezer for several days.